Following one of the most controversial video game launches in recent memory, SimCity players have little reason to celebrate. The highly-anticipated entry in one of gaming’s favorite franchises failed to work as intended upon release – with extensive server connectivity issues and game-breaking bugs that resulted in save file corruption. Frustration (now outrage) has been compounded by EA’s controversial decision to include always-on DRM in SimCity – meaning that gamers who were having trouble connecting to the publisher’s servers are not even allowed to play the game offline.
Response from EA and developer Maxis hasn’t helped the situation. While Maxis team members have attempted to be transparent about the problems facing SimCity, asserting that the title could be patched to play offline, EA has aggressively censored comment threads in their forums – even hiding their customer support number due to the outpouring of incensed players. However, while communication between EA and its customers remains a one-way street, the publisher is at least making good on one promise – to provide SimCity customers with a free Origin game as compensation for their troubles.
News of the offer was reported shortly after the SimCity launch became a full-blown controversy (and subsequently PR nightmare) but, at that time, it was unclear which titles would be up for grabs – as well as what other restrictions might come along with the “goodwill” gesture.
Now, thanks to an official press release from EA and Maxis, we know the full details. The entire post is available for reading at the official EA site but we’ve included an abridged version of the release focused on the specifics below (minus the PR back-speak):
Every player that has activated their copy of SimCity will receive an email that will give directions on how to redeem this offer, and you can also find more information on our FAQ. We’ll be opening up the redemption portal country-by-country so some of you may see it a little sooner than others. The portal will be live worldwide for everyone to select their game by March 22. We don’t want any of you to miss out on your free game, so please note that you must register your copy of SimCity before March 25, 2013 at 11:59 PM PDT and you must claim your free game by March 30, 2013 at 11:59PM PDT.
So which EA games can SimCity players choose from? Surprisingly, the publisher has included a number of top-selling titles, along with a high-profile new release:
- Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
- Bejeweled 3
- Dead Space 3 (Standard Edition)
- Mass Effect 3 (Standard Edition)
- Medal of Honor Warfighter (Standard Edition)
- Need For Speed Most Wanted (Standard Edition)
- Plants vs. Zombies
- SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition
Titles like Battlefield 3 or Mass Effect 3 aren’t particularly surprising, since they’ve been out for awhile and, even though they’re being offered for free, still present an opportunity for EA to make money – via costly DLC add-ons (not included in the Standard Edition). A more interesting inclusion is Dead Space 3 – which released less than two months ago. Could EA be attempting to drum-up positive word of mouth for the horror-action game – after Dead Space 3 failed to hit targeted sales numbers? Given that Dead Space 3 received decent reviews (read our Dead Space 3 review), it’s presence on the list might very-well mean that the title has seen significant drop-off following release – and EA hopes that the SimCity offer will help generate momentum for the costly to produce title (not to mention encourage players to splurge on DLC add-ons).
Obviously a free game, even a free game as popular as Battlefield 3 or Mass Effect 3 (not to mention smaller projects like Plants vs. Zombies or a beloved SimCity legacy title) isn’t going to make-up for the frustration that certain players experienced (and continue to experience) during the SimCity launch but, if nothing, else it’ll provide a good distraction until EA and Maxis can iron-out all the wrinkles in their new release.
SimCity is available now on PC
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.